The same people who claimed that this
was a justifiable reason for shooting a kid in the chest a couple of time, are insisting that this
is a perfectly reasonable response to a kid trying to use a fake ID.
Ask me again why black people require fundamental change in the power structures of our nation. Do it. I dare you.
I’ve had a surprising large number of conversations with my town’s Police Chief lately. Large being a relative number, since I’ve gone most of my life without talking to any police in various towns in which I’ve lived. So three. That’s large for me.
This is him at our March for Justice in December. He came. He marched. He listened and has continued to do so.
I believe him to be a sincere person. I believe that all of the conversations he has had with members of the racial justice group in my town, Rochester for Justice check us out on Facebook, are genuine.
I also believe that as a white person, he simply doesn’t have to think about police interactions with the public in the way that a Person of Color or a Black person (they are not the same) does.
In one of the conversations he and I have had, he made an interesting and edifying point which I’m going to paraphrase for you. In essence he pointed out that most people think of incidents of police violence as a one plus one equation wherein the only elements are the officer and the victim of violence. However, in reality there are three elements; the person who calls the officer, the officer and the victim of violence.
Keep this equation in mind. Person who called = C, Officer = O, and Victim of Violence =V
C + O = V in the event that violence takes place. Because let’s be honest, here in Rochester, we generally don’t get to the kind of V that places like Ferguson, MO does.
With that in mind please recall that Trayvon Martin was killed by a neighborhood watchman who has gone on to be arrested for a violent act every year since he killed an 18-year-old boy.
Eric Garner was killed by police who were called because of a fight, a fight which Eric Garner helped defuse.
Mike Brown was killed for jaywalking.
Tamir Rice was killed for playing with a toy because the 911 caller identified the 12-year-old boy as “a guy with a pistol.”
John Crawford was killed for attempting to buy a toy rifle.
I want to add one or two more things for you to keep in your minds.
First, that black children, especially boys, are seen as more criminal and older overall by society at large. And let’s not forget that police officers are members of society.
Do you have all of that?
A sincere and involved police chief who understands that C + O = V dilemma, a society that looks at its black citizens as more dangerous simply due to their skin color, and the necessity of long term training to overcome ingrained biases?
All of it?
Do you remember a couple of paragraphs ago when I pointed out that despite the fact that our police chief is sincere and involved he’s also white and as such, doesn’t have to think about certain things in the way that black people and other POC do?
Last week my local news did a lovely story about our police department expanding a year old program which, after one whole hour of training, empowers local dog walkers to catch and report suspicious activity to the police.
In other words, the Rochester, MN police department is asking its citizens to identify suspicious behavior and suspicious persons with all of one hour of training.
C + O = V
People who live in our society and are therefor subject to the biases built into our society are going to determine which of their neighbors is safe or acceptable in a space or what behavior is acceptable within a space.
C + O = V
And if they don’t find a person or a behavior acceptable they are going to call in the first part of that equation.
Not only does this program exist but it is being expanded. The training isn’t being expanded at all, just the number of training sessions available to the public so as to empower a larger segment.
In case I haven’t been clear throughout, this scares me. My very first thought when I read this was, “someone is going to get killed.” Because I’m black and that’s the kind of thing I have to think about as a survival skill.
Privilege is that ability to not think about things that way because you don’t have to.
Because C + O can lead to V, especially if, as in the Tamir Rice case, the person is described as just “a guy,” and not a kid. Or, as in the Trayvon Martin case, the person doing the deciding has a serious issue with violence and the desire to use it. Or as in John Crawford’s case someone thought it would be amusing to make a prank call. Or, as in the Darrien Hunt case, someone thought a man carrying a toy sword was dangerous. In almost all of these cases, someone called the police because they saw a black person and reacted with fear. They saw a black person and assumed malicious intent. They saw a black person in a certain space or acting in a way that most people who aren’t black can safely act and they decided that person was “suspicious.”
Those calls happened and people died.
So I have to ask the very sincere and involved police chief and the city council and the mayor and the citizens of Rochester, MN, why are we encouraging this? Why are we inviting the kind of tragedy that other communities have suffered recently? Why are we, as a community, looking to people with only one hour of training and asking them to look at their fellow citizens in a fair, rational, unbiased way to determine whether their behavior or presence is acceptable or if it is enough to become the first part of a potentially deadly equation?
I can’t with this shit.
And yet I have to because this is the world.
I was all set to do a breakdown of Patricia Arquette and how her statements were problematic. I was going to do a whole deal wherein I pointed out the claim of hurt feelings by her and people who support her is typical of the modern Left. More than anything, I was going to make a point about how to fuck up and bloody fix it rather than dig the hole deeper.
But then the world gave me such great example of the right behavior that all of that has been done for me. Also, better writers than me have done the heavy lifting.
Look, people fuck up. We exercise our privilege without thinking. I’ve done it. It’s one f the hazards of talking out loud in any sort of public space. It’s a problem but one that everyone can respond to in a thoughtful and respectful way.
Here is the not thoughtful and respectful way to respond when you fuck up.
Don't talk to me about privilege. As a kid I lived well below the poverty line. No matter where I am I won't forget women's struggle.
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) February 24, 2015
Here is the correct way to go about rectifying your fuck up:
Do the second one and if you’re not willing to do that then deal with the consequences of your shit.
From someone who really hates this stupid holiday.
A-loves it though. I don’t get it but that’s one of the things that you do for the people you love. I refrain from muttering about how this holiday is simply a set up to fail and she refrains from complaining when I fail.
This makes the third installment in what has become What a Witch’s traditional “Why My Girlfriend is Awesome” post.
Three counts as a tradition on the internet, right? Because this makes three.
Let’s go with yes.
Look everyone, we have a tradition!
For those of you new to the blog please see : AvP in Real Life and Why I Should Not Be Allowed To Talk to Other Humans Without Supervision.
So why is she awesome this year.
She broke her ankle in December, which is not awesome, but she rode it out in a sparkly pink and purple cast and its rainbow sticker and the green toe cap I knitted for her.
Yep that happened. That is an adult human leg. She looked like Lisa Frank and the My Little Ponies got together and mugged her.
I mock because I love…and because it’s true.
So while she was literally stuck on her ass for right weeks all she really had tome to do was sit and think and watch Netflix. What did she watch on Netflix? Shows I don’t get.
The Office? Not my thing. Totally her thing. Not at all my thing.
Also, Parks & Rec.
As I am the kind of person who has a teeny, tiny, very slight tendency to over think things this can make gift giving hard as I don’t really understand her fandoms. So I kind of just throw a random search term out there and hope that what I get her is cool.
In the process of her recovery, she added to her already encyclopedic knowledge of shows that don’t make me laugh. Oh and we picked up MMO gaming again which is something we left behind when we left our narcissistic ex. For those of you who haven’t experienced the fun that is doing anything at all with a narcissist, failure of any kind is THE END OF THE WHOLE WIDE UNIVERSE!
Totally failing at a quest and nearly getting very killed has never been so fun as it is with A-, mostly because our reaction to that total failure is some variation of “Well that sucks. Wanna try it again?”
So I’m going to stop typing now because after our luxurious V-Day dinner of drive through Wendy’s wherein neither of us had to cook and I got to stay in my pajamas we are probably going to go try to not get killed in Azeroth.
As always, Love you A-. Happy Contrived Romance Day. I love you all the other days of the year just as much.
I see you. I hear you. I read your comments. I know what you think because you make it clear.
If Mike Brown had never gone into that store, if Eric Garner had just done what he was told, if Tamir Rice hadn’t been allowed to play with a toy gun, they would all be alive now. What happened to them was sad, but they brought it on themselves, right?
You show no sympathy for Mike Brown or Eric Garner or the other black people killed by the police. You show no empathy for me, as a fellow woman, as a black woman who has once again watched her country fail.
(OK, fine #NotAllWhiteWomen. I get that, but if you’re not doing these things then I’m not talking to you.)
I, on the other hand, have empathy for you. I get where you’re coming from. I do. I am female too and I live in the world and in this country. It has been made clear to us from the beginning of our lives that we are not valued either. Further, it has been made clear to you, White Woman, that Black Men are the greatest danger you could possibly face.
Now that isn’t true but the lie is hard to overcome seeing as it has been repeated so many time and in so many ways.
Like I said, I get it. I do.
But it’s not OK and you need to stop it. You need to reach down into yourself and find both sympathy for the dead and empathy for those still living. You have to. This is not optional. You have to do it for your own mental and emotional health. You have to do it for your spiritual health, assuming you believe in such a thing. You have to do it because to do otherwise is to ally yourself with your own enemies.
Does this surprise you?
Nope. Sorry. The people who most benefit from things like this, not just to police officers that are killing people but the politicians and regular citizens who see violence against the people they don’t value as a tool of control? They hate you too. They hate you and they hurt you.
It’s not like the people who are defending the Darren Wilsons and Daniel Pantaleos of America are respecting and valuing women while they disrespect and devalue People of Color.
That doesn’t happen.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that at least some of the people reading this have been in abusive relationships. Because, you know 60% of women have.
I need you to remember what that was like. Remember being in the thick of it. Don’t look back on it from a place of (what I hope is) improved mental health and physical safety. That’s who you are now.
Remember who you were then.
Remember the person who defended and made excuses for her abuser.
Remember the woman who explained away bruises and tears.
Remember the first time.
Remember the tenth time.
Remember the hundredth time.
Now remember what your abuser said to you.
If you didn’t make me so angry.
If you did things right.
If you were more respectful
That person convinced you that you were responsible for your abuse. They convinced you that you were to blame and that only you could improve the situation. They convinced you that if you acted in a specific way, which they defined and changed at will, you would be safe.
They did. That’s why you stayed.
Please don’t think I’m blaming you for staying. I’m not. I am one of you, not a White Woman, but a survivor of abuse. I stayed too.
I stayed for a lot of reasons but the primary reason was gaslighting. I bought in to the idea that my understanding of relationships; that they should be based on shared respect and autonomy, on valuing the basic humanity of your partner and working together toward a better life, was wrong. I allowed myself to be convinced that I was misremembering every snide remark, every deliberately hurtful action, every dollar spent to keep us poor and desperate.
And I stayed, just like you. Not only did I stay, I tried to be less provocative. I tried to be what he wanted me to be because I believed that it would stop if I could just figure out the magical formula that would make me acceptable and respectable.
Because gaslighting fucking works. It’s horrible if you are subject to it, but it’s effective. That’s why they keep doing it.
You dressed like a slut. If you had just worn clothes that were decent you would have been fine. You deserved it.
You didn’t have my dinner on the table. If you could just keep house properly you would have been fine. You deserved it.
Why are you crying? Words don’t hurt. You’re so emotional. You’re overreacting. If you would just stop being such a crazy bitch you would be fine. You deserve it.
And you know what? America has been gaslighting our black citizens since about 1619.
Taryvon was just a thug. He wasn’t a kid walking home who was attacked for walking while black. If He deserved it.
Mike Brown stole! He attacked the officer! If he had just not committed a minor crime, if he had just been respectful to the officer he would have been fine. He deserved it.
Eric Garner was illegally selling cigarettes. If he had just accepted the three police officers surrounding him and aggressing against him after he broke up a fight and helped his neighborhood, he would have been fine. He deserved it.
Black people are just thugs.
Black people deserve it.
It’s not true.
You know it’s not true, just like it wasn’t true when your abuser tried to gaslight you into responsibility for your abuse.
Remember, as well those moments when you had taken so much that rather than staying silent and accepting the abuse in the hopes it would lessen the duration of each incident, you let your pain show through.
Remember what happened? Either your abuser showed what you couldn’t admit at the time was satisfaction, because that’s the point of abuse, for your abuser to feel their power over you, or they doubled down on the gaslighting.
They made it about them. They told you how much It hurt them to hurt you. Or maybe they didn’t even admit that they were hurting you. Maybe it was just another example of you being “crazy.” Oh how good they were to you that they would stay and put up with that kind of “insanity.” Aren’t you grateful? Don’t you feel sympathy for their pain?
You know what is true? Not only did you not deserve to be abused, you deserved a healthy and respectful relationship.
Not abusive is the absolute minimum that a person should be able to reasonably expect from an interaction with another human,. This applies to relationships between individuals and interactions between the society and the citizens that make up that society.
I mean, clearly it isn’t, but it should be.
Now I want you to remember something else. Remember the moments when you felt like you couldn’t take any more but did.
Not the moment you decided to leave, that is coming up. I mean the moment you kind of got through to your abuser for a minute and convinced them, somehow, that maybe they should not abuse you so constantly and overtly.
The abuse didn’t stop, of course, but you may have had a moment or a week or a month of respite. You had a period of time wherein maybe instead of screaming in your face that you are a cheating slut and punching you, your abuser just checked you text messages and stalked you.
It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t as bad as it had been, so it felt like good. You forced your abuser to step back and mitigate the worst of the abuse and that made you feel powerful and in control. It also created a situation where you were more accepting of “lesser” abuse.
Yeah, abuse skews your perceptions. Because what the fuck is lesser abuse? I typed it and I don’t really know what it is.
It skewed to perceptions of black Americans to the point wherein lack of respect and recognition of our basic humanity felt like good as long as we had access to lunch counters and didn’t have to sit at the back of the bus.
We convinced ourselves that not being overtly abused was the same as not being abused at all. But we were wrong.
Just like you were wrong when you believed that being stalked was the same as not being abused.
We, all of us were wrong.
Why? Because we were trapped in the idea that this relationship, be it personal or societal was the best we could do.
And that’s not our fault. It’s an extension of the gaslighting. It’s what they told us and told us, over and over again, in shouts and whispers, with fists and bullets, until we believed it.
Now I want you to remember the moment when you were done.
Whatever it was, whatever thing or thought or feeling that led you to get out and first I want to say that I’m glad. I hope you are healthier now. I hope you are happy. I hope you are safe.
Second, I bet that the moment we knew we had to leave was very similar for all of us. No matter the actual form it took, at its core, that moment is the one wherein we stopped buying in to the concept that a little bit of not abuse is the same as healthy and happy and safe.
It is the moment you knew that you had value, that you have a right to respect, that you deserve better.
Let me say that again:
YOU DESERVE BETTER
And so do we.
You deserve to live life happy, healthy, and safe.
So do we.
You woke up and valued yourself enough to step, or run, away from that unhealthy, unsafe environment.
We woke up too but we can’t really just dump our country. I mean, some people can but those people have already moved because they had the money to do so.
For the rest of us, while we appreciate the fact that we don’t have to sit in the back of the bus anymore, that America has stopped the larger, more visible abuse, the more insidious “lesser” abuse continues. It is American society reading our texts and stalking us. It’s not healthy. It’s not safe. It’s not the kind of life we all deserve.
We deserve better.
We deserve not to be criminalized for existing.
We deserve the same basic steps that our justice system says are our right.
We deserve to not be summarily executed because we have been accused of a crime.
We deserve to be able to adjust our waistline or reach for our phone and not have the whole world respond as if that is a threat.
We deserve that, just like you deserved not to be abused.
Everyone deserves to live a life free of abuse and when you White Woman, person I can usually count on to be my ally in struggles against the 1% and misogyny or for Gender and Sexual Minority rights and marriage equality, refuse to stand with me on this issue of race and the value of black people in America you ally yourself with my abusers.
You become just like the person who hurt you.
You hurt us through your indifference and your willingness to gaslight us.
You hurt us with your colorblindness and you insistence that our pain, black American’s shared pain has so little value that we cannot name it. You hurt us when you tut and wag your finger and tell us that all lives really matter and I shouldn’t concentrate on “just” black lives.
You hurt us when you shake your head at the violence in Ferguson and ignore the 100 days of peaceful protests that preceded it and when you ignore the blatant provocation of the authority figures in that community.
When you do this, when you devalue our pain, when you try to co opt it and make it about you, when you tell us that we deserve the abuse that is heaped upon is, it chokes me. It chokes me with anger. It chokes me with disappointment. It simply chokes me and I can’t breathe.
It chokes me, because I know that you can do better than this. I know, as a fellow survivor, that abuse is not an easy thing to live through. It’s not an easy thing to leave behind. I know that you can do better than this, in your everyday life, in conversations and online.
I know that you have both the fortitude and the integrity to shut down other people when they start to act like the people who abused us both.
I know that you have the ability to look silently outraged at someone until they stop trying to convince you and everyone who is listening that Tamir Rice deserved to be killed for playing with a toy gun.
I know that you have the strength to ask why it matters that Mike Brown may have stolen some cigars and to point out that petty theft isn’t actually a crime that one can be executed for in this country.
You have the responsibility to speak out in spaces where my voice, and the voices of the people who look like me and are most directly impacted by the issue of racism will never be heard.
I know that you can do this because to think otherwise lessens you as a person of strength who survived so much and I won’t do that to you.
I believe that you will do this because to believe otherwise brings back that choking sense of disappointment and righteous anger and I can’t breathe.
The grand jury in Ferguson, MO decided not to indict Darren Wilson, largely because they were given incorrect instructions as to the letter of the law.
Of course I was angry. But more than anger, what I felt was an overwhelming sense of being not at all surprised and sadness. It was this crushing, blinding sadness and it choked me.
I can’t breathe.
John Crawford was shio while shopping in an open carry state. He picked up a BB gun in a place where white men have carried assault rifles in an attempt to prove a point and the grand jury in that state declined to return an indictment.
The level of despair that knowledge brings up in me is so overwhelming I can’t breathe.
Tamir Rice was shot while playing with a toy gun. He was 12 years old.
I. Can’t. Breathe.
And now, to see the grand jury in the Eric garner case refuse to return an indictment, even after viewing the video evidence, after being told that the NYC coroner ruled the death a homicide and learning that the choke hold applied was outlawed in 1993?
I Can’t Breathe
When the people of Ferguson react with violence at the lack of concern the people who are supposed to protect, serve, and represent them they are doing it because they can’t breathe. And when you’re being choked you flail. You lash out at anyone in your line of sight, anyone who you can lay your hands on, even if they are friendly because you’re desperately trying to stay alive.
They Can’t Breathe
When a number of Caucasian friends decided to try to fill up my BINGO card as fast as possible I ended up unfriending more than a few and got even more sad.
WE CAN’T BREATHE
When I watched other Caucasian friends discover that people they liked and admired are, in reality, just really racist and hateful I felt bad for them. When they made it clear that while they were in pain, this issue was the thing they wanted to focus on, I was extremely proud to call these people friends.
BUT I STILL CAN’T BREATHE
When the society that is choking us spends as much time as it possibly can telling us we deserve it
WE CAN’T FUCKING BREATHE
I wanted to be eloquent about this. I wanted to cite statistics and quote sources. I wanted to incorporate the words of people more skilled and well known than I am. But…
When someone posts a rape threat to your blog because they don’t like the facts you posted or the opinion you posted or the fact that they can’t use their internet penis to scare you off the internet.
That happened to me in the past seven days. And on average about once a week.
When someone on Facebook specifically tags you in a post and requests that you prove that “The Talk” that all people of Color, especially males get from those parents who are responsible. In this specific case it was to seek proof that a mother who told her son “don’t run from the cops or they’ll shoot you wasn’t “just being paranoid.
That happened to me in the past seven days.
When a male posts his opinion of Jian Ghomeshi’s firing which includes the sentence “if Gomeshi’s personal sexual life is the whole reason behind this, CBC deserves to lose this 50 million dollar lawsuit,” but responds to women posting the accusers side of the story with “I refuse to speculate.”
That happened to me today..
When in the course of that same conversation a commenter brings up BDSM and goes out of his way to mention blackmail and “misunderstandings.”
That happened today too.
When people think a Ray Rice jersey and a female doll made up to look beaten is a clever Halloween costume.
When a white couple dresses up in black face as Ray Rice and Janay Palmer.
That happened to the whole damn world this week.
Happened to all of us too.
No, I’m not going to go point by point and explain why demeaning the pain and fear that PoC labor under every day as “being paranoid” is racist and makes it clear that you have a serious compassion problem.
I am further not going to help someone who appears intelligent define the word IF or the word SPECULATION or explain how using one means you’re doing the other.
And if you can’t figure out why domestic violence and black face aren’t funny you are lost and need to back away from my blog right now.
I can’t with this shit anymore.
STOP BEING HORRIBLE PEOPLE. I don’t have time to explain this over and over again.
Why is this complicated?